National earnings leader Julien Leparoux, who rode Kentucky invader Pure Clan to victory in the American Oaks last year, seeks to become the first jockey to win the race twice next Sunday.
Leparoux has taken a call on Magical Affair for trainer Michael Matz in the eighth running of the $700,000, Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on turf. Kentucky-based Leparoux has earned more than $8.5 million in purses this year.
Magical Affair is one of 14 fillies expected to compete in the international affair. “She worked five-eighths today,” said Matz from his training base at Fair Hill, Md., Sunday. “She will be vanned to New York and flown to California Monday.”
Magical Affair, a chestnut by Giant’s Causeway, has recorded two firsts and three seconds in six starts. She finished fourth in the Sands Point Stakes over a yielding Belmont Park course she did not relish on May 30.
“She was very wide in her last race and looked to be stumbling a little on the soft turf,” said Matz.
Matz looked forward to a firm course and an extra furlong in the American Oaks. “She’s doing good, and the distance will suit her,” he said.
Magical Affair is expected to meet Sands Point winner Gozzip Girl (Kent Desormeaux) from New York, Regret Stakes runner-up The Best Day Ever (Corey Lanerie) from Kentucky, Appalachian Stakes winner Afternoon Stroll (Joseph Talamo) from Pennsylvania, Apple Charlotte (Mike Smith) from England, Rare Ransom (Patrick Smullen) from Ireland, Puttanesca (Glen Boss) from New Zealand as well as seven California-based fillies: Honeymoon Handicap winner Well Monied (Joel Rosario), Senorita Stakes winner Mrs Kipling (David Flores), Providencia Stakes winner Acting Lady (Rafael Bejarano), Third Dawn (Garrett Gomez), Lexlenos (Alex Solis), Nan (Corey Nakatani) and Pretty Unusual (Tyler Baze).
Nan and Pretty Unusual were extended invitations by racing secretary Martin Panza after the defection of two original invitees.
Third Dawn worked seven furlongs on turf Sunday in 1:25.80 for trainer John Sadler. Mrs Kipling drilled six furlongs on grass in 1:13.80 for trainer Neil Drysdale, the same distance as Nan covered in 1:13.40 for conditioner Craig Dollase. Acting Lady worked six furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:14.20 for trainer Doug O’Neill.
Siren Lure, who won the Triple Bend Handicap in 2006, seeks to become only the second horse to win the race twice when the $300,000, Grade I test is run for the 58th time at seven furlongs on Cushion Track next Sunday.
Siren Lure, an 8-year-old gelding trained by Art Sherman, has earned $994,244 and will join the millionaire club with a finish in the top five. Frank Alvarado, who guided him to three straight victories in Northern California this winter, has the call.
The only two-time winner of the race is champion Porterhouse in 1955-56.
Expected to join Siren Lure in the lineup are Eastern shippers Rebellion (Julien Leparoux) and Street Magician (Rafael Bejarano), Ack Ack Handicap winner Noble Court (Joel Rosario), Star Nicholas (Michael Baze), Paul’s Hope (Garrett Gomez), Rush With Thunder (Martin Pedroza), Trumpet Player Jay (Aaron Gryder) and 3-year-olds Bet On Victor (Martin Garcia) and Zensational (Victor Espinoza).
The last 3-year-old to win the Triple Bend was Debonaire Junior in 1984.
Trumpet Player Jay worked six furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:13 for trainer Mark Glatt.
Ferneley worked seven furlongs on turf Sunday in 1:25.80 under jockey Victor Espinoza and earned the green light from trainer Ben Cecil for the $150,000 American Handicap here on the Fourth of July. The Grade II test will be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Defending champion Whatsthescript (Joel Rosario) is expected to head a lineup that could also include 2008 runner-up Storm Military, the Neil Drysdale-trained duo of Artiste Royal (Rafael Bejarano) and Giant Gem (Alex Solis), Monterey Jazz (Tyler Baze), Buenos Dias and Pick Six.
Giant Gem worked six furlongs on turf in 1:14.40. El Merito, another nominee, drilled four furlongs on grass in 48 for Mike Puype.
Agent Tony Matos praised apprentice jockey Christian Santiago Reyes after the Puerto Rican native’s first California victory aboard Fishin With T Ball after the 2-year-old filly led all the way and just held on in the Saturday nightcap for $40,000 maiden claimers. Reyes began riding here last week.
“He’s a gold mine,” said Matos. “He was the leading bug at Churchill Downs and has the bug until next May. He just turned 19. He was riding for Wesley Ward, who developed him.”
FINISH LINES — Two of the 12 3-year-old fillies entered in the $100,000 Flawlessly Stakes at one mile on turf Friday worked Sunday on the grass. Starlarks worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.80 for trainer Paddy Gallagher, while Eloquently drilled six furlongs in 1:12.20 for conditioner John Sadler …Jockey Mike Smith will be at Churchill Downs Saturday to ride Shoemaker Mile winner Thorn Song in defense of his Firecracker Handicap crown. Garrett Gomez will also be gone on the Fourth of July to ride Hollywood Derby winner Court Vision in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park…Redondo Beach Stakes winner Tuscan Evening worked a bullet six furlongs on turf in 1:11.60 for the Jerry Hollendorfer stable for the $250,000 Royal Heroine Mile on July 11.
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